Sunday, October 30, 2016

Indy Women's Half Marathon

"It can't possibly rain again, this year, can it?"  This is the thought that I'm having as I watch the weather report the day before the Indy Women's Half Marathon.  Last year, the 5th anniversary of this women's only race, thunderstorms rolled in and canceled the race only 25 minutes into the race.  I figured the odds of that happening again weren't very high, right?  Well, tell that to Mother Nature.

Race starts at 7:30 AM so Kylie, Matthew and I head downtown and arrive at the starting area, Monumental Circle by 7:00.  My in laws were waiting for us, they were keeping an eye on Matthew while Kylie and I were running (Brett was out of town).  It's too dark to see any clouds but the air felt thick and I knew we'd be getting wet.  Kylie was confident in her ability to run the 5k fast as she's in the middle of her first cross country season and has been really fast with that.  I talked to her about what to look and listen for if she saw lighting (flags and police officers) and told her to keep with a group of women and get to the finish line.  I was a little nervous for her but she wasn't a bit worried.  She actually was interviewed by a local new station at the start line.  We were ready to run and feeling good in our InkNBurn clothes, she was borrowing my classic Flutter tech shirt and I was wearing Monarch tech with the new Bee skirt, following the Indy Women's Half butterfly theme.  

So the race starts on time and Kylie's off like a rocket.  I lose sight of her so fast!  That's ok, I'm looking forward to a fun time myself, it's good for her to have her own experience.  I do catch a glimpse of her as she turns a corner and she's hanging with the front group of women.  Nice.

I notice a lady wearing a InkNBurn tie die Run or Die tank so I make my way over to her to say introduce myself.  I run up next to her and say hi and she says "Hi Mary!"  Well, it's my FB friend Jeanette, who I met for the first time totally randomly at a race last Thanksgiving.  She's running a good pace so we fall in step with each other.  First few miles go by quickly and easily.  About mile 2, we're at the part of the course where the 5k runners are coming at us from their turn around, heading to the finish line.  I see the lead lady and mention to J that it would be really cool to see Kylie but that I doubt I would as we were just a 100 yards from our turn away from downtown.  Then suddenly, I see a glimpse of a white shirt come around a corner, onto the straightway towards us.  It's Kylie and she's rolling just effortlessly!  I pull my phone out and grab a quick picture of her while yelling "You're in 3rd place overall, keep going!!!"  I catch back up to J and am just so excited, thinking that Kylie is only about 1/2 a mile from a possible podium finish!  I did consider turning around to see her but I knew that I couldn't see her finish and what could I do? Nothing. So I kept running. She did text me a few minutes later to say that she finished in 4th place, winning her AG and HUGE PR of 22:26!!!  I was so, so proud of her.
Anyways, so J and I continue on with the half.  Right as we hit mile 5, the sky opens and the rain comes.  Not a nice, "oh this is refreshing" rain, a hard "this hurts my face" kind of rain.  Like, I'm completely soaked in seconds rain.  But, no thunder or lighting.  So, we continue.  We're running well, keeping a good pace.  Here are the splits for the first half:
Mile 1: 8:29
Mile 2: 8:33
Mile 3: 8:49
Mile 4: 8:57
Mile 5: 9:02
Mile 6: 8:59

J and I are just having a blast, talking very easily about our lives, races, clothes, races, more clothes, mutual interests, our kids, the rain, pretty much just everything.  The rain doesn't let up, the road is completely flooded in parts.  At first we would try to find a way around the mini lakes but then we gave up, thinking we couldn't possibly get more wet.  Sweat is mixing with rain and running into my eyes, stinging them terribly.  Nothing to be done about it though.  We reach the turn around point, just at the very top of a hill that I've climbed several times in the Monumental Marathon.  I know the road coming up isn't very well maintained so the puddles/lakes continue to grow.  I noticed another runner taking a gel and realize that we're at mile 7 and neither of us have eaten anything.  I asked J if she had any gels and she did.  I take mine and within minutes, feel some energy return to my legs.  J seemed to be tiring so I say goodbye and go off on my own.  Well, that lasted about 1/2 a mile.  The energy was short lived and I grabbed a Gatorade and a quick walk break at the next aid station.  I hear J yell my name and I waited a second for her to catch up.  She had taken her gel as well and was feeling refreshed so we decided to stay together as it really was much nicer to run with a friend.
Mile 7: 8:49
Mile 8: 8:42
Mile 9: 8:34 (Nice!)
Mile 10: 8:56 (didn't last!)

We turn finally south so we can see downtown, where the finish line is.  The rain stops and things start to heat up, feeling pretty steamy.  Neither of us are talking much, I think we both just want to finish.  I'm not wearing a Garmin as I let Kylie wear it so J is keeping me posted on times.  She mentions that she's close to a PR but I don't have it in me to keep up with her.  I stop for water and a walk break at mile 12 as she continues on, looking strong.  I start running again and push hard to catch her.  I'm only maybe 10 feet from her when my stomach decided it didn't want to keep pushing and I paused, thinking I was going to get sick.  A few runners ask if I'm ok and I am.  I know that I get sick at and before finish lines a lot if I sprint too early.  So I take some breaths and continue on, a little slower.  I see J still in front of me but she's running strong and I'm not, LOL!  But I do run my best to cross the finish line and was shocked to hear Kylie screaming "Run, mom, run harder!"  I had thought she would have gone home with her grandparents, especially with the rain!  But she stayed with my mother in law, waiting to see me finish.
Mile 11: 8:42
Mile 12: 8:37
Mile 13: 9:08 (darn stomach)

I cross the finish line with a smile, receive my butterfly medal from a uniformed soldier along with a pretty rose.  J and I find each other and meet up with Kylie and my MIL.  Kylie was upset that they didn't have awards for the AG winners which I didn't understand, I thought was weird.  After questioning several people, J noticed someone that she knew who looked in charge.  That very nice lady found the box with the AG awards and gave Kylie hers, which turned her frustration into happiness.  We enjoy some beverages and conversation for a while before saying goodbye.

So this is the 6th time I've run this race, 3rd with the current owners (Carmel Road Runners).  It is different than it used to be in some ways but there are also many improvements.  I wish the medals were are nice as they were a few years ago, especially now that bigger, fancier medals are popular.  But really, that's my only complaint.  The race director keeps things very organized and does a lot for the running community in the Indianapolis area.  So, I'll be back for year 7!!!

Brew Ha Ha Halloween 5k

So I don't normally bother with 5k's very often.  I think they are hard to race because I run them hard and so often anymore, they are over priced as everyone expects a medal and shirt and entertainment.  I do miss the $20, just show up and race days.  But, I digress.

Anyways, this year, InkNBurn released an AMAZING Halloween kit that I knew I needed to buy.  I had to have it.  Medieval was the name and it looks like chain mail and armor, capris and a short sleeved shirt.  I loved it.  So, I bought it and searched for a Halloween race to show it off in.  Now, I had run a few races this year put on by 13.1 Events and was impressed by them so I looked and found their Brew Ha Ha 5k. The medal was very cool too, a Sugar Skull medal with blinking eyes!  Sounded perfect to me.

Saturday morning arrives and I drive up to Carmel for the race.  I don't know that area very well so I arrive early and find parking nearby easily.  I hit the packet pickup and drop the long sleeved hooded tee-shirt (very nice swag, especially because it's not covered by sponsor,s logos) in the car.  I get a few pictures taken in front of the selfie background and wait for my friend and fellow InB fan, Jeanette to arrive.  Her and her friend, A, arrive soon and we head out for a mile warm up run.  It was warm for late October, already nearly 70* and sunny.  I was wishing that I had a skirt on instead of my super awesome capris but I wasn't willing to sacrifice my outfit and even if I was hot, it's only 3 miles.

We arrive at the start with only a few minutes to spare and J and I get ourselves into the front part.  I didn't want to get stuck behind a bunch of walkers.  The race starts exactly on time and we're off.  J and I had run the Indy Women's Half together just a month earlier and found to be on the exact same pace and really enjoyed each other's company.  We started off together but her coach had told her not to race so I sped up after a minute or so.  I was running pretty good, under 7:50, for the first 1/2 mile but the fast pace and my warm clothes were not helping me keep that pace.  Soon, J was at my heels and we settled into a quick and sustainable pace together.  Mile 1: 8:13
Mile 2: 8:14 very flat course, as expected in central Indiana.  We talked about a few races we had done and ones we would like to do.  We discussed overnight relays and marathons.  We chatted about costumes and sinus drainage and InkNBurn clothing.  Soon this middle mile was over and we were turning onto the Monon, a running/biking trail that lead to the finish.
Mile 3: 7:58  The event didn't close the trail to the public so there were a few runners and bikers along the way but everyone stayed out of the racers way.  I can see the taller buildings that were near the finish line but they seemed really far away.  J and I weren't talking anymore, we were both pushing pretty hard.  She broke away from my in the last quarter mile, that woman has a terrific finishing kick!
Mile 0.14: 1:08  I push hard and cross the finish line.  Whew, that was a hot one and it wasn't pretty.  Finishing time was 25:28, 9th place in my AG.  J and I walk around to cool down, find a photographer (they do all free pictures here!) and hit the beer table (Thanks, Mendoza brewery!).  J's friend A finishes with a full minute PR, which I'm sure was because she was wearing InB for the first time but she thinks it was because she joined us for our warm up mile.  We take off for a 2 mile cool down, catching up on our races and lives in general.  It's so fun to run with great women, I wish I had the chance to do it more often.
Anyways, the race is pretty much finished by the time we get back.  I grab a donut and say goodbye as I need to run another 6 miles for my training plan.  I thought I would be too hot for those miles in my capris but clouds came out and once I wasn't racing, I stayed actually very comfortable.  And kept a 9:40 pace for those miles as well!
Next race?  Monumental Marathon on Saturday!!!!!
Four InB fans!  Jamie in Kimono, me, J in Bee skirt and May the 4th tank, A in Red Robot

Check out those medals!!

She Power Half Marathon

She Power Half 

I signed up for the She Power Half this spring.  It’s a new race at my local park, Eagle Creek in Indianapolis.  This was a different kind of race, you could “pick your path” either run on trails, road or both.  It also offered a quarter marathon and a virtual option (which seemed really popular based on the social media chatter.)
Now, I’ve been working out nearly weekly with some of my fellow Dance Moms.  They’ve been working so hard at losing weight and embracing an active lifestyle.  I shared the She Power Half info on our FB group on a whim and to my surprise, 4 signed up for the Quarter marathon!  And at least 2 signed up for the virtual option after the race sold out.  
So, race day arrives and it was so hot, 80* at the 7:30 start, reaching 85* two hours later. Which is really hot for a half in June in Indianapolis. 
I arrived early to pick up my packet and to get close parking.  I also wanted to meet up with several other INKnBURN ambassadors who were racing as well.  I pulled into the parking lot and BAM!  fellow ambassador, Angi, was pulling up next to me.  We walked to the packet pick up which was very organized and I got my bib on and put the box with my shirt in it into my car (I had wrongly assumed there would be a bag drop).  I found the dance mom’s in the parking lot too and we all walked back to the starting area as I explained why they shouldn’t pin their bibs on the back of their shirts and where to line up in the crowd.  Angi and I found and chatted with everyone we saw wearing INKnBURN, which was more than I normally see in Indy!  The event company, 13.1 Events, offered a backdrop and FREE professional pictures (shocking!!!!) so we got several group pictures in everyone’s InB.

 Soon, it was time to line up for the race.  They did need to start 10 mins late because of people backed up at the park entrance.  The race course starts with a pretty big uphill climb.  Background on this park, it’s hilly.  Very hilly for central Indiana.  But, I feel pretty good on hills so I wasn’t worried.  At the top of the hill, the trail runners went left and the road runners kept on.  There really weren’t many runners in front of me, I stayed towards the front.  The next few miles passed pretty easily as they were flat but the heat and humidity were already high, at least I thought so.  I decided about mile 2 to take a walk break every mile for 30 seconds just to catch my breath and lower my heart rate.  So I would be passed by a few runners but then pass them back when I ran again.  They probably found it annoying but I was able to run hard without slowing down between breaks.
Now I had looked over the course map the night before and had an idea how it was laid out.  One lap through the park for the quarter marathon and two for the half.  About mile 2.5, we come around a circle and I see a right hand turn but the small group of runners in front of me were continuing straight.  I also saw the course marshall on the phone, holding a printed out map.  Hmmmm, my gut says to turn right but I need to listen and follow the pack so I stay straight.  We end up on an out and back and see most of the slower runners heading into the circle area. That was cool because I shouted “Ink N Burn!” to several runners wearing various pieces and yell hi to my dance moms too.

 Soon my Garmin is beeping for mile 3 with no mile marker in sight.  Yup, I was right, we took a wrong turn.  But I continue on because there isn’t anything to do about it even though in my head I was mad.  A while later I see the mile 3 marker and my Garmin reads 3.87 miles. Great, I really don’t want to be running 15 miles this morning but who knows what will happen on the second loop, hopefully they figure it out and re-route us.  I push the frustration out of my head and continue on to the hilly second half of the loop.  And man, it was hilly.  I was doing my best to relax and lean forward on the downhills, flying down them and passing numerous other runners and I would shorten my stride and keep my head down on the uphills, refusing to give into the walk urges, unless it was a designated walk break for me.   It might have been hilly but it was also shaded so although I felt hot, it wasn’t terrible. 

We arrive back at the split for the quarter, which was mile 7 on my Garmin, and half marathon.  I continue straight while EVERY runner near me turned to the finish.  I was stunned, I didn’t expect that.  I asked the next set of volunteers if any half marathoners had passed them and they said very few.  Huh.  Maybe I’m doing ok at this race.  I start imagining Age Group awards and that gives me a burst of energy for another mile or so.  But I’m alone also.  I don’t see another runner for 2 miles and then only a glimpse of her long pony tail.  It’s very hard to pace yourself in a race without having anyone around you.  I ignored the pace on my Garmin and just focused on reaching the next mile.  Around mile 8ish, the volunteer had me take a turn which I knew allowed me to shorten the course.  Now, each mile marker was closer and closer to being accurate with my Garmin, which was such a mental relief.  Around mile 10, I see two runners in front of me slow down at a water stop to get fluids.  I’ve been carrying a hand-held water bottle so I just rushed past them while they shouted encouraging words to me.  Women can be so cool.

Around mile 11, I run down the biggest hill in the race and it feels like I’m flying.  Seriously, I’ve run down Mt Hood and this felt like that, at least it did a little bit in my heat exhausted, worn out mind.  The water station volunteers are cheering me and I’m feeling refreshed.  I check my watch for my overall time for the first time and see that I’m actually in reach of finishing around 2:00, which was my goal considering the hills and heat.  I push myself up the hills and through the now hot, hot sun.  My water bottle is now empty, my skin and clothing is soaked with sweat.  I want to be done.  The next miles pass quickly and I actually start to pass a few of the quarter marathon walkers, who I gave encouraging words to as I trudged on.  Then I see another runner in front of me but she has at least a ¼ mile lead and I can only see her occasionally as the road is very curvy.  I want to catch her bad so I keep pushing.  But, then the turn for the finish line is in front of me and I know that I just don’t have enough miles left to catch her but I wasn’t going to let that keep me from finishing strong.  I run down that hill to the finish as fast as I can, passing 3 of my dance mom friends along the way.  I see the finish line and run hard to reach it, with my hands in the air.  2:02:29 for 13.26 miles! 

I walk around the finishing chute, catching my breathe, getting the most gorgeous medal and rose handed to me on bended knee by a very handsome young man.  I turn around and cheer for my friends as they finish their very first road race.  The look of pride, joy, exhaustion and pain was in their faces and I was getting emotional for them but then I heard my name being called by the announcer who said “and in 3rd place for the road half marathon, Mary Nabb!”  WHAT?!?!  I screamed to my friends “This has never happened to me before!” as I hurried to the results tent.  The race director handed me a ceramic tile with the race logo on it and started to line me up for a picture when another runner approached, saying that she had finished but her name wasn’t called.  I had a sinking feeling that my overall podium finish was going to be a mistake so I waited while they figured it out (she was listed as a trail runner instead of a road runner so she did come in 2nd place, bumping me down to 4th).  So I handed the tile back and was given a smaller, coaster sized one for winning my Age Group, still a very amazing accomplishment.  Turns out, I was only about 30 seconds back from the 3rd place finisher, so close!  Oh well, nothing wrong with a AG award! 

I hung out with my dance moms and we got some pictures taken and enjoyed free sno-cones (great touch!)  They soon headed home while I waited for the InB ambassadors to finish.  Angi had a great race too and Tasha, who did the trail race, finished strong, even after wading through a foot of water.  I enjoyed hearing everyone’s race stories and cheering people across the finish.  I even got to see the last half marathon finisher walk towards the finish line as I was pulling out of the parking lot, surrounded by water station volunteers who were committed to getting her across the finish line. 
So, all in all, it was a terrific day.  There were some mistakes, like the route being long for the first lap (I think the quarter marathon runners actually went over 7 miles) and I would have liked to have seen a few more water stations considering how hot it was.  But, the rest of the race was exceptional.  I will do it again and would recommend to anyone. 

Next up, another race at Eagle Creek but this time a trail marathon!